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Monday, June 28, 2004

How to Lose Friends and Aggravate People

Dale Carnegie he ain't. Bush may pardon a turkey every Thanksgiving, but Turkey won't be forgiving him soon for shutting down much of Istanbul for three days. Juan Cole got an e-mail from a friend visiting Istanbul:

There are 15 million people in Istanbul who [are extremely hostile to] Bush. So that he could get a private tour of Topkapi and the rest of Istanbul during this NATO summit, they have closed the following for THREE DAYS: coast road from the airport to Dolmabahce, Galata Bridge, Taksim Square, Besiktas stadium valley, Sirkeci ferry terminals, and the first Bosphorus bridge. Last night we couldn't cross the coast road to view the sunrise from the Marmara. Today we can't get to the islands, because the ferry terminals are closed. Surreal. I'm trying to figure out how to leave my Sultanahmet hotel to get over to Beyoglu for the next couple of days. They recommended before the summit that everyone just leave town, and yesterday everyone I tried to contact was on their way to their summer holiday on the beach. It was like Thanksgiving Wednesday in the US.

Anyone who knows Istanbul knows that such a closure literally turns the city into an open-air prison. There are snipers posted on the next building to our hotel, constant military helicopters buzzing around, and naval craft cruising offshore. If only for sacrificing three days of their life for Bush's secure comfort, people here are furious. The trend in the past couple of years has been to hold such summits in remote locations. What brainchild decided to hold this summit smack in the center of one of the world's largest cities, with hostility running so high?
Bob Harris comments on how the whole world is being told how boorish the American pResident is--the whole world except for America, of course.